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This Toa Payoh Home Was Made ‘Bigger’ with a Simple Trick

October 2, 2019
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Who knew that changing the doors could make such a difference?

How do you enlarge a home’s tight walkways without drastically changing its layout? For this 5-room Toa Payoh home belonging to a family of four, the (surprisingly simple) solution was to have sliding doors installed at the kitchen and master bedroom – two areas where space was at a premium.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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Interior Firm: Minutiae

“By installing them(sliding doors), we got back the space that would have been taken up the opening radius of a regular door, and that made it easier to move about the house,” explains Mr. Tong of Minutiae – Interior Design Intervention, who handled the entire makeover that also included the addition of an air-conditioned alfresco dining area and a custom-built marble TV console/island!

About the design brief

Mr Tong (T): The owners are in their late thirties and they have two young children who are of schooling age. Child-proofing wasn’t a major priority for them, but they definitely wanted ways to make their home more space-efficient and to give it a minimalist look.

toa payoh HDB renovation minutiae
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Floor plan (Before). Red lines denote where existing walls were hacked.

toa payoh HDB renovation minutiae
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Floor plan (After)

On changes made to the home

T: If you take a look at the floorplan, you’ll see that there were quite a few storage fixtures added throughout the house, but we were also careful to make sure that they wouldn’t eat up too much space.

For example, at the entryway, we installed a full-height shoe cabinet, which does make the area a bit tighter. But there’s still enough (room) left, about 1.1m of walk space.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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The living room has a fairly unique layout, the seating area has a half-height TV wall that’s also an island and behind it is a gathering area. The new cabinets are where the owners store their wine glasses and prepare drinks, so it’s like a dry kitchen in a way.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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For the living room furniture, it’s mostly simple-looking pieces, like a pencil-leg sofa and glass coffee table, but the TV wall is one-of-a-kind – it’s made from a slab of genuine Carrara marble, which had to be factory cut to specific dimensions. We wanted to use the actual stone itself because it’s hard to get the same look and feel even with faux marble.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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Another unique thing about this house is the balcony/dining area. Apart from invisible grilles for safety, the owners also wanted Ziptrak blinds to be installed there.

The good thing about these blinds is that they don’t just keep the heat out, but also keep cold air from the aircon indoor, which is useful when the owners have friends and family over.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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The kitchen was the part of the house that the owners were most concerned about. Both of them enjoy cooking, but because the kitchen is quite small, they wanted me to look into ways to improve its usability.

One of the main things that we did to solve the space issue was to hack off the wall closest to the entrance and install a large pocket sliding door. That gave the kitchen a bit more room and also allows the entrance to be fully opened.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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In the kitchen, upper and lower fixtures, such as cabinets and counters, were created with the same depth and height for a more uniform profile throughout.

Originally, the master bedroom was much smaller, but we merged it with the study to create extra space, enough to fit a king-sized bed. Also, we installed the bed frame over the bay window seat and although that makes it higher, we were able to get more space to ‘expand’ the master bathroom.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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Again, if you look closely at the floor plan, you’ll see that the original boundaries of the en suite weren’t actually expanded, but to make it seem like it was, we boxed it up with a facade that includes cabinets, a sliding door entrance and the bedroom’s feature wall on the outside.

What actually changed was the bathroom’s layout; the sink was moved from beside the WC to its current position and that allowed us to install a longer, brand-new vanity in it.

Toa Payoh Lorong 1A by Minutiae
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About design challenges

T: You won’t notice it at first, but this HDB flat’s ceiling is higher than usual. Even with the depth of the false ceiling included, it’s about 3 meters tall, possibly close to 4 meters; the usual height of an HDB flat’s ceiling is about 2.6 meters. Although that was challenging to work with, it’s also a blessing because we were able to install floor-to-ceiling storage.

toa payoh HDB renovation minutiae
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While simple, the hobby room’s design works well with the rest of the home as it shares common design elements, such as herringbone vinyl flooring and clean, minimalist lines.

To sum up

T: For me, working on this project was an interesting experience because it took some creativity to make the interior work. Also, it has been a few months since the owners moved in and last I heard from them, they are still happy with their new home, which makes me happy too!


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